‘Royals’ Singer Lorde Caught in Racism Row

The 16-year-old pop star is caught in a war of words over her chart topping single

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An influential blogger has accused Lorde, the New Zealand-born pop star, of racism over lyrics in her chart topping song “Royals.”

In the offending lyrics, Lorde, stage name of 16-year-old Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the youngest person to top U.S. charts in a quarter century, rails against how “every song” these days is about gold teeth and luxury cars. Veronica Bayetti Flores wrote a searing post last week on feministing.com, calling the song “deeply racist.”

“Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why sh** on black folks? Why sh** on rappers? Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East?”

Lorde’s fans fired back that Bayetti Flores was the one displaying arrogance and ignorance by interpreting the song—sung by a New Zealander—through the lens of American race relations. “I realize not everything in this world is an instrument of oppression,” wrote one New Zealand journalist. “And not everything in this world should be viewed through the lens of Americans, particularly when it comes to race and cultures of other countries.”

Bayette Flores stood by her post amid the barrage of criticism. A spokesman for her record label told CNN Lorde had no comment on the controversy.

[CNN]

89 comments
thomasmisk3434
thomasmisk3434

This song is definately not racist, its talking about the commercialism of pop music! Everyone wants to look for something thats truly not there. How about seeing the song for the true meaning, the god like praise on being finacially well off and showing it in very damaging way. The music industry is corrupting young people minds to think that money is everything. Then there's writers like you who try to take the real message of a song and twist it so you have something to write about.

REALHwofBH
REALHwofBH

Why does everyone assume it's about black people?? I live in a very caucasian city that is known for its Maybachs, and Cristal champagne. Besides, the worst racists are the blacks anyway...they've done more to harm their own cause than any other race. Just ask Bill Cosby!!!!!

turkeybirdo
turkeybirdo

Or is it more racist that your perception of black people seems limited to the very recently popular and accessible cultural phenomena of "gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs." What about that other 200 years of history?

CareyGrant
CareyGrant

Whether or not the song is racist is one thing, but to think that the white people over in Austrailia and New Zealand aren't racist? That's a real laugh. 

RichT
RichT

Says the privileged white woman from Massachusetts with a crappy blog. 

gwapingpusa
gwapingpusa

 Because no one writes songs about "golf or polo or Central Park East," that's why. Think before you accuse anyone of anything. Common sense is free, you don't have to get a degree. 

EpiMalifa
EpiMalifa

This song is about how she was NOT raised up in a royal environment. For example, "We're driving cadillacs in our dreams". As a result to the fact that she was raise up in a safe, yet not royal environment, driving in a cadillac is unlikely for that to happen. I grew up in the same area as her. I know what this song is about.

Rubin
Rubin

Why isn't anyone calling Ms. Flores a racist for attributing those kinds of tags to black artists? Has she ever heard of Public Enemy? She is saying that songs regarding an anti-excess attitude must be racist against blacks because certain black artists flaunt their wealth? Well, I'm offended then as well, because I like Jet Planes. Looks like Lorde must hate Romanians too. 

PoisonArrow
PoisonArrow

This is a blatant attempt to popularize the song by brewing a fictitious storm in a cup.

1961Mark
1961Mark

The song is NOT about black people, at least not JUST black people. Just look at celebutards Miley Syrus, Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton. They are white and act just like the black artist. Too much money and no class. Miley is a train wreck just waiting to derail, and Beiber couldn't fight his way out of a phone booth without his bodyguards surrounding him to protect him. Kim k. would be a nobody if not for last name, and Paris Hilton, well, she's a has been.  

Music_is_music
Music_is_music

Oh please... so ridiculous. Glad to see most people on here are smart enough to dismiss this rubbish. The song is about being a teen and listening to music that glorifies being rich and famous and having things like diamond jewelry, gold teeth Crystal  etc. There's not a lot of pop songs for teens about how awesome it is to be a rich banker, or how they just landed that latest golf-club sponsorship deal! 
I mean honestly... that's also only about half the things she lists - she also sings about blood stains, ball gowns, trashing hotel rooms - which makes me think more of some unruly punk or rock bands, or, like Courtney Love. 

Mark1961
Mark1961

The song is NOT racist if everything Lorde sang about is TRUE, which it is. Have you SEEN the artists today, which their flashy cars, juvenile partying and language, adultery, drugies in the bathroom, and just rapping bulls**t. I LOVE Lorde.

MichaelHirz
MichaelHirz

don't you think its boring how people talk.... 

Quiz41
Quiz41

I wish Ms Bayetti not speak for black people, she needs to stick with feminist issues and shut up about black issues.  Because last I checked Ms. Bayetti is white.  

ScottMetter
ScottMetter

You probably wouldn't have to look very hard to find examples of racism in a lot of hip hop songs, and I'll be fair and not count the innumerable times the N-word is used.

lucidphil
lucidphil

The girl is sixteen, she is from New Zealand, she is only reflecting back how the US music industry presents itself on this side of the world. She isn't carrying the baggage of American race relations. What she is referencing is just bad taste.

It is bad taste to flaunt wealth no matter what group you belong to. If Flores is trying to claim this bad taste for her race she does her cause no favours.

DameonGrey
DameonGrey

Let's not forget that that this Flores woman automatically thought of black people when she heard "gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs." Who's the real racist here?

Laker32ShowTime
Laker32ShowTime

this blogger is an IDIOT!!!  Veronica Bayetti Flores that is your own interpretation of the song, u r looking for racist! not sure how the hell u became a popular blogger with this kind of stupid, insensitive comment!!! 

MaryAnnEA
MaryAnnEA

stupid, stupid, stupid.  She is an artist.  Look how many black people sing about riots, etc... leave her alone. She is mature beyond her years compared to the Miley Cyrus crap on television.  That is not music nor entertainment, it's selling sex.  Lorde is about talent. period.

kinolurtz
kinolurtz

What a stupid post. There are no pop songs about golf and country clubs, so why would she say that there is? Christ.

fairy
fairy

So the lyrics were specifically targeted at black people?  I find that hard to believe.  I think that the message of the song is pretty simple:  that being rich is not all it's cracked up to be, and modern music is steering you wrong. My point is that what she's talking about is prevalent throughout popular music. Not just rap.And not everything is about race.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    ( 1120102115 )

jwheeringa
jwheeringa

OK I bought this song just to have a listen.  I live in NZ part time & Canada: There is NO credibility in her attack .... I mean if anyone ever visited NZ for just a week you'd know their culture abhors overt wealth, influence and racists.  Like seriously so.  The country in general is as friendly as a student hostel.  I once walked up a "road" to have a look at some horses and a classic red barn with my fiance'  - hoping for a photo. The "farmer" came out offered tea and gave us a tour - oh and the road was his driveway! He just treated us like friends &  stuff.  Classic Kiwi culture right there.  


ShawnAnderson1
ShawnAnderson1

insinuating that just "blacks" do these things is even more racist then the lyrics.. if they were even racist. somebody just has sand in her vagina.

burhanbaik
burhanbaik

If you think the lyrics are racist, then you better go check yourself, coz you are racist.

AmberDukes
AmberDukes

What the hell is a New Zealander?

nat_nova
nat_nova

I can't help but think that this Veronica got everything she wants from her article. That is, attention. People please don't mind her.

thestillife
thestillife

Coming from a black female I think calling her racist is a STRETCH for multiple reasons.

1. To say she's being racist is to say that rap is black and black is rap. Thats like assuming that if one says "I hate country music" They're saying "I hate white people". It a stupid and irrational conclusion to make.

2. We're acting like nice cars, partying, drinking and glorifying wealth is only represented in Rap. Check out videos for other Top Pop 40 artists and you're guaranteed to see artists doing the same exact thing as rappers whether it be through lounging on an insanely expensive car or showing off diamond rings. Some even talk about it explicitly in the lyrics (Check Miley Cyrus 23)

3. Lets say that this 16 years old girl is "sh*****g on rappers" ok so? I fail to understand how that would mean that she's hating on black people? As a black female, I dislike most rap music. Especially popular rap music! Does that mean I'm racist against my own race? And lets not forget that there are a decent amount of popular white rappers in the US. And there are a decent amount of black people who are musicians but aren't rappers. I feel like Flores correlation was the effect of a rushed judgement.

My point is that what she's talking about is prevalent THROUGHOUT popular music. Not just rap. And thats what other countries get. Our popular music. 

On another note, I have been a fan of Lorde since the Love Club EP, back when she was just blog buzz and I have to say, this is part of what comes with the fame. It seems many people just aim to bring down anything that's new, successful and good-natured. I wish Lorde the best in her career and I know we have yet to see the best from her. 

prettysure
prettysure

Racist.  An interesting take on this song.  What I hear is that there's a lot more to life than wealth.  The most fun I've ever had, and the closest friends, was when I was as poor as dirt.

msdz
msdz

Just saw this on CNN, it is exactly what I was thinking - 

Michael Gibb  - Speaking as a New Zealander, I can say that the lifestyle or culture that Lorde is singing about in her song, is exactly what we see in the majority of the imported American music which dominates our music charts. It makes sense that if Lorde is singing about the lifestyle she sees in music, then it is going to be the lifestyle of the hip-hop and pop musicians, which is soaked in wealth and opulence.

If Ms Flores thinks there is any racism in the song, it is not because Lorde chooses to sing about it, but rather because the recording companies have promoted and associated that lifestyle within Hip-hop through the media. So if there's any racism it is with the recording companies and NOT Lorde, as she is only singing about what she sees in the media

jordyhaw92
jordyhaw92

@Rubin That is a pretty dumb comment.....a black person denouncing the excess lifestyle of rappers is different than a white person doing the same thing....a white person doing it and not looking to his/her own ethnicity is a bit bias....

jordyhaw92
jordyhaw92

@1961Mark How about this...it is the black artists acting just like the white artists....too much money and no class

Ebony
Ebony

@Music_is_music

I totally agree. I love this song. Trying to understand some of the lyrics like: "I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies" have an idea, but not sure.   And, " Let me be your ruler, you can call me queen bee." What does that mean. Does it mean, Use me as a measure of how smart she is being queen of the "spelling BEE" meaning there's more gotten by being academically smart? ??? Can someone shed some light?

jordyhaw92
jordyhaw92

@Mark1961 you are just proving the point of those calling this song racist...you would totally agree with a song that points out the excess of black artists while ignoring white artists who do the same

Ebony
Ebony

@thestillife I agree. I'm a black female and I can't stand rap music!! I don't like regular rap. Christian Rap, etc. I just don't like it, and that's my right as a human being.

Nag1nag2
Nag1nag2

@prettysure Im sure you guys had gold teeth. drank cris and talked about Maybachs all the time too.


:rollseyes:

Nag1nag2
Nag1nag2

@msdz BUTT she is not talking about the other music scene or movies, like the Billionaire hero..Tony Stark/Iron man or Batman.  She is only talking about Black Music.

That makes it racist.  Her song comes off as jealousy.   like Oh no..when minorities flaunt wealth its all of a sudden wrong. Our uppity minorities might start having those ideas.  Thats the problem.

armand56789
armand56789

@Nag1nag2 @msdz @Nag1nag2 @msdz - Nag1nag2 - It's clear that you're NOT familiar with the song's lyrics, and haven't bothered to read the CNN article cited in this piece. She is NOT just "talking about Black Music" (whatever that is). The 'Royals' verse causing this controversy is this:

But every song's like gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom,

Blood stains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room,

We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams.

But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece,

Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.

We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair.

As one writer cited in the article points out: "While a few of the trappings of conspicuous consumption cited in the song were associated with rappers, it also name-checked others associated with other wealthy, high-living stereotypes. "Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash? I'm thinking Richard Branson and maybe Russian oligarchs there," wrote Brendish. "Blood stains and ball gowns? Celeb socialites... Trashin' the hotel room? Rock stars."

So Nag1nag2, do everyone a favour and read before you write. 

prettysure
prettysure

@Nag1nag2 @msdz "only talking about Black Music"??

 "Fetch me my jimmy choo flip flops,
Where is my pink prada tote?
I need my tiffany hair band,
And then I can go for a float. "

Ashley Tisdale

thestillife
thestillife

@Nag1nag2 @prettysure @msdz um other genres of music we're targeted in the song too "grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom;Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room" 

I getting EDM (trippin in the bath room), Rockstar(ball gowns, trashing the hotel room) idea from this one.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash --> i just get the idea of wealth from this one

Not everything is about race 


prettysure
prettysure

@Nag1nag2 @prettysure @msdz So the lyrics were specifically targeted at black people?  I find that hard to believe.  I think that the message of the song is pretty simple:  that being rich is not all it's cracked up to be, and modern music is steering you wrong.